The White House sent three officials to embark on a campaign to persuade newsroom executives to be more kind in their coverage of President Joe Biden, according to a report issued on Tuesday night.
The three officials chosen for the task are National Economic Council Deputy Directors David Kamin and Bharat Ramamurti and Ports Envoy John Porcari. The team has been “briefing major newsrooms over the past week,” according to CNN‘s Oliver Darcy.
In his newsletter this week, Darcy said that the outreach came from a concern that Biden was not being treated fairly by the mainstream media.
Their efforts began as a result of the Dec. 3 op-ed published in the Washington Post by Dana Millbank titled ‘The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof.‘
In his article, Milbank said that he had growing concerns over the consistent, negative banter from the media and decided to commission a study.
Millbank asked Forge.ai, the data analytics arm of FiscalNote, to look at 65 news websites ranging from newspapers to wire services and political publications, and do a “sentiment analysis” of 200,000 articles.
The analytical study was done by searching for particular adjectives to assess sentiment in the articles, contrasting coverage for both Biden and Trump. Milbank said the study showed that the media was treating Biden worse than it had former President Donald Trump.
“My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy,” he wrote.
On Monday, Milbank appeared on CNN to defend his claim.
We challenge his case. pic.twitter.com/HJrIqsP4Js
— Brianna Keilar (@brikeilarcnn) December 6, 2021
“August was the turning point, Biden’s coverage was more favorable than Trump’s before then,” Millbank told CNN’s ‘Brianna Keilar. “There was that honeymoon. Even as things have generally improved since then, the coverage has not improved. … It’s not bias. It’s the actual words we’re using. So we are as negative as a collective media on Joe Biden, if not more so than we were to Donald Trump at a time when he was trying to overthrow democracy. That is a tremendous indictment of the whole industry.”
Milbank said journalists working in the U.S. needed “to do soul searching and see what we are delivering to people. … There’s a real problem when we are being just as adversarial because a guy doesn’t pass a bill, as we are when a guy is trying to overthrow democracy.”
Milbank’s article was greeted with approval from the highest levels in the White House, including the White House Chief of Staff, Ronald Klain.
Submitted for your consideration:https://t.co/h5lHm0sZAp
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) December 4, 2021
However, other sources have called Millbank’s study and claims into question.
Charles Cooke, a senior writer at the National Review, wrote: “No Sentient Human Thinks Biden’s Press Coverage Is Worse Than Trump’s Except for Dana Milbank, with an assist from a very silly algorithm”. His response was published just days after Millbank’s article and appearance on CNN.
James Freeman, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, wrote in response to Millbank that he believes the interaction between Millbank and the network shows a move from mainstream media to offer a more bipartisan coverage of the nation’s leadership.
Sources are not aligned over the general sentiment of Millbank’s article, and it appears the bias and strategy of each media outlet will continue to be seen in the months ahead.